By Harvey Wasserman
The Democratic Party has nowhere to go but left.
The 2016 Sandernista groundswell and the Rainbow Tsunami of 2018 have marked a historic shift.
The diverse wave of millennial activists that has poured into the Congress is unprecedented. And the public support for real change – a Green New Deal – is undeniable.
The real message: the three-decade triangulation of the Clintonista New Democrats has been transcended.
The faux mantra from bloviating experts, petulant pundits, and high-priced consultants has been droning on since the coming of Ronald Reagan: the Democrats must forever tack right to attract “swing” conservatives in the “mainstream middle” between the two parties.
But in the Age of Trump, such voters are all but extinct. The middle ground has cratered. The swing constituency (if it ever existed) has disappeared into the abyss. What matters now is excitement, commitment, clarity, and REAL CHANGE … none of which can come with a corporate/compromised agenda.
Since the Great Society sank into the Vietnam quagmire, the only major federal program meant to benefit the working/middle class has been Obamacare. The gap between rich and poor has become a bottomless pit. What matters now is substance. And it’s coming from the post-corporate left.
The original New Deal is the ultimate historic role model. It put millions to work, revived a crashed economy, guaranteed food and education for the poor, served the environment, and gave the nation hope and real change.
The New Frontier/Great Society established Medicare, opened pathways to social justice and bottom-up prosperity, and (until it sank in Vietnam) promised so much more.
Now Sandernista/Millennials want a Green New Deal to take it all to a new level. The Green New Deal must replace our Earth-killing fossil/nuke burners with 100% renewables, creating millions of jobs along the way. With that vital transition must come Medicare for All and answers for staggering medical debt, massive student loans and soaring college tuition, homelessness, a swollen imperial budget, and much much more. In time this of global crisis, there’s no doubt about it: This Green New Deal is our essential route to ecological and economic survival.
It’s also the last hope of the Democratic Party. A deeply divided, dangerously embittered nation can no longer tolerate political timidity.
For a new generation of activists, that means going inside/out.
In the left lane, it means maintaining the Green and other independent organizations for ideological clarity and an outside power base.
Such campaigns demand no compromise. That means unflinching solidarity for ending the empire, abolishing nuclear weapons and banning torture, a ban on nuclear and fossil fuels, converting quickly to 100% renewables and efficiency, demanding mass transit, solving homelessness, protecting organic food, banning GMOs, winning universal health care, abolishing student and medical debt, protecting the right to vote, universal hand-cast/hand-counted paper ballots, getting money out of politics, meaningful gun control, full racial/gender/sexual preference equality, and much more.
All that demands a coordinated network of independent grassroots organizations and at least one true progressive political party completely free of all corporate influence.
At the same time, converting the historic Democratic Party to an organ of real social and ecological change remains essential. The 2016 Sandernista campaign made the party bend. In 2018, some real progressives poured through the cracks in its corporate wall.
The midterm elections also showed that a real leap forward has no room for a circular firing squad. The agreement to disagree, and work both sides of the road at once – an inside/outside strategy – is vital to victory.
Those who want to work on the outside should by all means do so. Those who can maintain their principles while working inside the party must also do what needs to be done.
Nobody is going to be 100% pure. Nobody can rightfully claim to have all the answers.
But we do know this:
By and large, the cultural/identity revolution the Baby Boomers lit in the 1960s has hugely succeeded. America is far from entirely remade. But in terms of diversity, we’re now a very new nation in many important ways (partly as witnessed in the faces of this new Congress) since Jack Kennedy won the 1960 election, essentially with black votes. He rightly proclaimed the coming to power of a new generation, then didn’t live to see its hopes bashed in the imperial futility of global conquest … or its victories in making this a far more diverse and open society than the one that killed him.
Six decades later, the Millennials must now lead and win the economic, anti-imperial and ecological battles we need to survive.
The Solartopian conversion must be funded not by new taxes, but with money re-directed (as suggested by Code Pink and others) from the imperial military budget. It must happen as soon as humanly possible.
In the Age of Trump, the middle ground is gone.
So while we use independent organizing to make the hard place of what we stand for irreducibly clear, the rock of inside organizing must crack open and transform the Democratic Party.
That won’t be easy. But it should be fun. And our survival depends on it.Φ
Harvey Wasserman’s Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at prn.fm; California Solartopia is broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica, 90.7 fm, Los Angeles. His Life & Death Spiral of US History: From Deganawidah to Trump to Solartopia will soon be at www.solartopia.org. This article was published on January 7 at rsn (reader supported news).